Rep. Barletta Introduces America Works Act
- Encourages Education Prioritization, Higher Ed, Worker Training -
WASHINGTON –Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today introduced the America Works Act (H.R. 497), which encourages states and localities to prioritize education and workforce training expenditures and helps workers earn higher education degrees or certificates. The bill would result in participants more easily earning associates or bachelor’s degrees, registered apprenticeship certificates or other industry-recognized credentials. The legislation has no fiscal impact.
“With the economic downturn still hurting too many Pennsylvanians, we have to do more to give workers better chances to get the jobs that are available,” Rep. Barletta said. “In fact, there are unfilled positions in manufacturing, such as machinists, equipment operators, craft workers, distributors and technicians. However, all of the available jobs in the world don’t mean a thing if our people aren’t qualified. The America Works Act will help them along their way.”
The America Works Act is designed to help participants receive nationally portable degrees or certifications. The credentials could be awarded by a training provider or postsecondary institutions. Such higher education would qualify workers for jobs that require additional technical skills, which many experts suggest have replaced other jobs lost in the manufacturing sector.
“Right now, according to a 2011 Government Accountability Office report, the federal government spends $18 billion across 47 separate employment and training programs,” Barletta said. “This money would be better spent with a tighter focus on helping people attain the expertise they will need to succeed in our evolving economy.”
The bill operates in the framework of three existing pieces of legislation: the Workforce Investment Act, the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act. A similar version passed the House in the 111th Congress by a bipartisan vote of 412-10.
“We still see unemployment hovering near 8-percent nationally and even higher in some parts of Pennsylvania,” Barletta said. “Anything we can do to improve access to job skills for our workers is something we should not delay.”